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Conceptualising differently-mobile passengers: geographies of everyday encumbrance in the railway station

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This paper develops ideas of differential mobility at the scale of the 'everyday' by investigating some of the complex relationships between mobility and immobility; facilitation and encumbrance when moving through railway stations. Drawing on in-depth qualitative research with rail passengers in Britain, the first section explores the entangled relationship between differently-mobile bodies and the station by considering some of the tensions that emerge between experiences of encumbrance and facilitation. Focus here is on how navigating through the station with different mobile objects, or 'prostheses', impacts on passengers in a variety of ways. Drawing on insights from science, technology and society studies, it demonstrates how moving with different objects gives rise to fluid apprehensions of both mobile objects and the built form of the station itself. However, and importantly, this section suggests that this fluidity also has the capacity to disrupt the intended affective dimensions of the built form. The second section explores how differently-mobile passengers move through the station with these mobile objects. Drawing on de Certeau's notion of 'tactics' and Ingold's idea of the 'taskscape', this section pulls out some of the practical knowledges that, through repetition, develop into skills and techniques for moving. In doing so, this paper seeks to illuminate some of the complex relationships between mobility, prosthetics, encumbrance and affectivity that emerge when moving through the railway station.

Keywords: embodiment; knowledges; mobilities; railway travel; tactics

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Environment and Technology, University of Brighton,

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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